Letter: Why won’t council address issues with pension plan?

Posted 5/3/22

To the editor:

The Portsmouth Town Council has decided to slam the door on further discussion of the Portsmouth pension plan. The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens request for an agenda item about the …

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Letter: Why won’t council address issues with pension plan?

Posted

To the editor:

The Portsmouth Town Council has decided to slam the door on further discussion of the Portsmouth pension plan. The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens request for an agenda item about the pension plan cost overruns on The April 25 council meeting was rudely rejected. A discussion of adding funding for an independent review or audit of the pension plan to the budget was rebuffed by Council President Aguiar during discussions on the proposed budget.

All residents should be alarmed by these actions. They are a very strong indications that there have been serious problems in the administration of the town pension plan. The Portsmouth pension plan is the program which constitutes the greatest threat to Portsmouth’s taxpayers. Any shortfalls can be huge, and will be made good by increased taxes.

The total cost of the pension plan is calculated by the actuary hired by the town. These firms are professional companies hired for their expertise. The current total liability (cost) of the plan to the taxpayers is $108,430,954 through 2042. The cost has grown $35 million since the plan was closed in 2012. Inflation, mortality rates and other variables are accurately calculated by the actuary.

The PCC has been closely studying the pension costs for three years. We have focused on the overall cost of the program through 2042. The $35 million overrun can only be paid to some or all of the approximate 300 pension plan members. The council is flatly refusing to tell the taxpayers who is getting how much of that $35 million and why.

We know from public documents obtained through an Access to Public Records Act request that there have been three individuals added to what is a closed pension plan in the last couple of years. There is no record of these people being added by the council in open session. There have also been employees added in prior years. These additions were flatly denied by the administration, but the proof is in their own documents.

We in the PCC believe that there has been substantial misadministration of the pension plan as the cost overrun of $35 million far exceeds the costs of the new employees added. The council is now blocking discovery of what the other cost-drivers are.

The council meeting of April 25 lasted one hour and five minutes. Our agenda item was rejected because they did not want to address these problems in public, not because of time. Refusing to fund an audit of the pension implies the council knows, or at the very least suspects, what would be found and do not want it public. These actions make a mockery of the council’s continuous claims of transparency.

Larry Fitzmorris 

President, Portsmouth Concerned Citizens

50 Kristen Court

Portsmouth

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